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Shakespeare's Bones

This must be one of the most unusual Shakespeare projects ever attempted. The idea is simplicity itself. All of the words are removed from a play of Shakespeare’s. That is to say, metrical scansion signs replace the words, and numbers the names of characters, leaving on the page only the bare grid, the skeletal structure, the bones of the play. Once this rhythmic grid has been established, the task of the writers is to devise a new story that will require the same number of characters, appearing at the same places, even beginning a speech at the third foot in the pentameter, and then to write the new words and graft them onto Shakespeare’s grid. Shakespeare’s bones are re-fleshed with a new body of poetic speech, in the mouths of new characters, acting out a plot of the new authors’ devising.

Michael Hulse devised this project for the Capital Centre and worked on it with a small team of students. The choice of the play, the work of stripping out Shakespeare’s words, the conception of a new plot and characters, were all the responsibility of the students signed up to the project, under Michael’s guidance. It was a project that confronted writers with object lessons about the sheer resourcefulness of Shakespeare’s verse and structures, as well as with fundamental technical issues of plotting and dramatic rhythm. It also raised issues to do with the status of mimicry, imitation and pastiche. Above all, it stretched the team’s creative energies in ways that were entirely unpredictable.

Shakespeare's Bones: Reflections

14:22, Wed 20 Aug 2008

Michael Hulse gives his reflections on the Shakespeare's Bones project so far, and discusses the future of the project.

(MP3 format, 6.8 MB)


Shakespeare's Bones: Pastiche

14:20, Wed 20 Aug 2008

Michael Hulse discusses the nature of pastiche in relation to the Shakespeare's Bones project.

(MP3 format, 11 MB)


Shakespeare's Bones: Structure

14:18, Wed 20 Aug 2008

Michael Hulse discusses the importance of structure and climax in the Shakespeare's Bones project.

(MP3 format, 14 MB)


Shakespeare's Bones: Language and Plot

14:15, Wed 20 Aug 2008

Michael Hulse discusses the challenges of language and plot in the Shakespeare's Bones project.

(MP3 format, 12 MB)


Shakespeare's Bones: Introduction

14:12, Wed 20 Aug 2008

Michael Hulse introduces the Shakespeare's Bones project.

(MP3 format, 5.5 MB)